Remote is not Regression: Leading in a Remote Environment

About the Guest Author

Dr. Burl Randolph, Jr., DM, is connecting remotely daily at MyWingman, LLC, a Business Leadership and Management Consulting company in Davenport, Iowa that serves the Quad Cities and the Nation.  Dr. Burl is also the author of the Best Selling Book, “Inspired, Not Retired: Leadership Lessons from Father to Son” and coauthor of “Can God Trust You with Trouble?

 

Sometimes doing what we do may feel like regression.

 

As professionals, we are all accustomed to certain things like the corner office, big desks and nice computers with plenty of space to do our work.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are forced to work at home, which is a dramatic change.  This concept of Remote Work or Working Remotely may feel like a regression in what you or your organization have accomplished.  This is only true if you allow it and at this point, I will diverge from my normal self and use a cliché’:

 

But leadership makes the difference.    

 

In this Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) environment, leadership is the glue that holds the organization together. Leading remotely is almost routine when your organization is spread across several states and square miles, the situation requires it, and you operate regionally, nationally, or globally.  Even in those environments, leaders must establish certain parameters to help spur success in the organization.

 

1. Establish Routine Connections.

Most people are creatures of habit (routine) and interaction (connections).  When working remotely, establishing routine connections is vital to the health of the organization and its members. People need to hear from their boss, coworkers and stakeholders as routinely as they did when business occurred in-person. So, what meetings, phone calls, events and motivational moments can you continue while working remotely?

 

2. Develop Stability.

When situations are the most uncertain is when stability is required the most. Routines and connections are two parts of that. Updates about all facets of the work environment are also key, so that people feel like they are informed.  This may include updates from human resources (HR), business development (BD), operations (OPS), and logistics and supply, just to name a few. A good one for HR is also Recruiting and Retention.  Are we still hiring or are people leaving in droves? For BD, are we gaining new clients or are we struggling to keep who we already have now?  Informed people work much better and have a higher commitment than organizations that keep people in the dark. How are you developing stability in your organization?

 

3. Inspire Accountability.

Accountability is a good thing, although it has been cast as a fiendish tool used by management to keep tabs on people.  One accountability measure that establishes routine connections and stability is having a Battle Buddy or Wingman/woman. Working remotely does not allow us to just walk over to someone’s desk and say, “Can you check this for me?” so, find a Battle Buddy to bounce things off each other. You become each other’s editor, muse, sounding board and backup. You hold each other accountable. Who is your Battle Buddy at work?  Who has your back? Who keeps you straight? Are they doing that right now?

 

4. Empower Communication, Collaboration and Innovation.

I have witnessed many innovative ways to help others during this pandemic. Can you use that same type of innovative spirit in your business? Empower everyone to communicate freely, collaborate openly and innovate without fear of repercussions. What can be done in your business that has never been done before? Who has a skill that was unknown until now? Who works well together and has formed a High Performing Team?

 

5. Value the Impact of Connectedness.

Do not miss the boat on this one. As much as you may dislike Zoom, Skype, Google Go-To-Meetings, Microsoft Teams or the literally hundreds of other video teleconference (VTC) platforms, the connectedness they allow provides great value. In the prime of my CEO tenure, VTCs were reserved for the elite or those in trouble, so I only had the phone. Now, being able to see a coworker, boss, family member or friend can make a huge difference. Even when you meet wearing a mask and being socially distanced, it has a wonderful impact on morale and well-being. Do you value connectedness? Are you creating connection opportunities both professionally and personally?

 

How will you continue leading during this Remote Work Environment, so that it does not feel like regression is occurring in your organization?